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EC on a mission to increase voter turnout to 75 per cent

Special Correspondent
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It is roping in NGOs, associations, civil society groups, students

Having been able to register about 20 lakh new voters in three months, the Election Commission (EC) has launched an ambitious and intensive campaign to increase the voter turnout to at least 75 per cent in May by persuading the electorate to come out and cast their franchise on May 5.

Chief Electoral Officer Anil Kumar Jha told presspersons here on Tuesday that the average polling percentage was 64.68 per cent in the 2008 elections. He wants to enhance it to at least 75 per cent. Gujarat, which had registered about 65 per cent during the previous elections, was able to register 75 per cent turnout in the recently concluded Assembly elections due to a stiff campaign. “Though we do not have as much time as Gujarat, we are doing our best to bring in more voters to polling booths,” Mr. Jha said. The EC has adopted a multi-pronged approach by roping in non-governmental organisations, resident welfare associations (RWA), civil society groups and students for the purpose. “We have also been sending pledge letters through students to their parents,” he said.

About the lukewarm response by voters residing in apartment complexes and gated communities to come out and vote, particularly in Bangalore, Mr. Jha said help from owners’ associations and RWAs would be taken to persuade them. Voters’ slips too would be distributed through these associations. The Labour Department has already directed all establishments to provide paid-holiday to workers on May 5, though it is a Sunday, to encourage voting. Defiant establishmeants will be brought to book, Mr. Jha warned.

Cash seized

Officials on poll duty have seized about Rs. 40 lakh in cash in the last 24 hours across the State, and arrested a few persons, Mr. Jha said. While Rs. 9.8 lakh in cash was seized near Honaganahalli Gate in Ramanagaram district; Rs. 9 lakh was seized at Solur in Magadi taluk; Rs. 9.3 lakh in Kamalanagar near Aurad check-post; Rs. 5 lakh in Nelamangala off Bangalore; Rs. 3.45 lakh in Channapatna; and Rs. 2.68 lakh in Belthangadi.



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